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Skiing Builds Momentum for Winter Carnival

By Nicole Roos

Wins by Nordic skier Annie Pokorny ’16 and Alpine skier Colin Hayes ’17 in the second day of racing led the Middlebury ski teams to a combined fourth place finish in the Williams Carnival on February 19-20. The University of Vermont won the competition with 992 points, followed by Dartmouth (919), UNH (720) and the Panthers with 638 points. Alpine races were contested at Jiminy Peak in Hancock, Mass., while the Nordic races were held at the Ski Jump Venue at Lake Placid, NY.

The Panthers got off to a great start in the first day of racing, when alpine racer Rob Cone ’17 took home a second place finish in the giant slalom, only one-tenth of a second behind the winning time. Sophomore Riley Plant ’18 also helped pace the Panthers, finishing 13th, while Hayes turned in his ninth top-20 result for an 18th place finish. First-year racer Caroline Bartlett ’19 continued to lead the Panther women as she has done for most of the season, earning an 11th place finish. Elle Gilbert ’16 was the only other member of the women’s team to finish, placing 21st.

Despite the absence of Kelsey Phinney ’16, one of the team’s top performers who will miss the next two carnivals to represent the United States at the U-23 World Championships in Romania, the women’s Nordic team refused to slow down. Pokorny started off her two-podium weekend effort with a third place in Friday’s 10K freestyle race. Alia Johnson ’16 turned in her best effort of the season, finishing the race in 14th place, and Kaitlin Fink ’16 rounded out the scorers for the Panthers, placing 17th overall. On the men’s side, Lewis Nottonson ’19 earned his best finish of the year, pacing the squad in 13th-place. Jacob Volz ’18 tied his season-best 27th-place finish and Evan Weinman ’18 rounded out the scorers in 33rd place.

Saturday’s events were highlighted by Hayes’s first career carnival win in the slalom. Sitting in fourth place after the first run, he turned in a blazing second run to take the overall victory.

“It was awesome to have such a big day personally and to see all my hard work paying off,” Hayes said of his win. “But, it was even better with Rob’s second place in the GS and Annie’s win in the 5K. It was just an unbelievable weekend for the team as a whole.”

Ghassan Gedeon Achi ’16 earned a top-10 finish in seventh place, while Christopher McKenna ’17 was the third Panther to finish in 25th place. Pacing the alpine women was Bartlett, who placed 12th overall. Gilbert followed in 23rd place and Katy Greene ’17 was 35th.

On the Nordic side, Pokorny’s win in Saturday’s 5K classic race was her first victory of the season, where she beat out the second place finisher by a massive nine-second margin. Johnson turned in another personal best, finishing in 18th place, while Cate Brams ’18 finished close behind in 22nd. For the Nordic men, Nottonson paced the Panthers with an 18th place finish, while Volz and Weinman finished in 26th and 29th, respectively.

Heading into the final carnival of the season, both the Alpine and Nordic teams are looking to capitalize on their home hill advantage.

“We have a number of seniors wrapping up their Carnival careers and I know they want to go out with a memorable weekend,” Nordic Coach Andrew Johnson said. “On the men’s side I’d like to see us have a full, healthy team racing. If we can get all six guys back to racing this weekend then we stand a good chance of having our best men’s showing in a few years, and if all of the women can have a strong, consistent weekend, then we have the potential to be one of the top teams.”

The Panthers return to action this coming weekend, playing host to the EISA Championships, with Alpine events taking place at the Middlebury College Snow Bowl and Nordic races being held at Rikert Nordic Center.

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